Science communication for citizen scientists – Fostering community capacity for environmental leadership

Science communication for citizen scientists – Fostering community capacity for environmental leadership

Author: Merryn McKinnon – Australian National University, Australia

Angela Dean – Australian National University
Jennifer Loder – ReefCheck Australia
Karen Vella – Queensland University of Technology

Reef Check Australia (RCA) has a legacy of citizen science activities, having coordinated and trained volunteers to undertake reef health surveys across Queensland for over 15 years. Through the collaborations with these citizens and partners, RCA has a validated data set on indicators of reef health which can be used to complement traditional research and monitoring. Now, through a new Reef Ambassador community outreach program, RCA aims to develop a more holistic version of citizen science. Can citizens also become effective advocates for the science they do? Can they empower local communities to take action?

Between 2015 and 2017 RCA recruited and trained 37 Reef Ambassadors. Each ambassador attended a workshop which provided training in reef science, science communication and event delivery. After the completion of the workshop, the Reef Ambassadors coordinate or contribute to community outreach events to build community awareness about local reefs and RCA’s work. The Ambassadors also provide information and opportunities to empower local individuals to contribute to reef conservation.

This presentation will outline the key findings from preliminary evaluations of the Reef Ambassador program based on pre- and post-training surveys and interviews with the Ambassadors. To explore the potential impact of outreach activities, short surveys were also conducted with community members who engaged with Reef Ambassadors at events. The results presented here are part of an ongoing program which seeks to translate citizen science into a means of fostering community capacity for environmental leadership. It provides insights into how citizen science and science communication can ‘join forces’ to enact positive outcomes for communities, science and the environment.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication